Visitation Street

Mysterious Book Report No. 120

by John Dwaine McKenna

Across from lower Manhattan, on the eastern shore, at the mouth of the East River, is a run-down area of abandoned warehouses, discarded, dilapidated piers and muddy salt flat marshes that look out on the Buttermilk Channel, Governor’s Island, Ellis, Liberty and Staten Island, the upper bay, as well as the New Jersey shoreline and the Statue of Liberty.  It’s called Red Hook.  It’s the toughest part of Brooklyn, sitting on a promontory that time has passed by.  It’s an area that runs the socio-economic spectrum, from pioneering yuppies and developers intent on gentrification, to hard-boiled middle class working types who’ve lived in the area for a generation or more, to the disadvantaged who live in huge public works projects and collect public assistance in order to exist.  Red Hook is where this week’s MBR number 120, takes place, it’s title is Visitation Street, (A Dennis Lehane Book/Ecco/Harper Collins, $25.99, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0-06-224989-0) by Ivy Pochoda.  It’s hot mid-summer and two bored fifteen year old girls named Val and June, leave their home on Visitation Street “One of the nice, tree lined streets in Red Hook,” in their shorts and tube tops, carrying a small pink plastic raft, intent on cooling off by sailing in the New York Bay . . . ignorant of, or perhaps ignoring the strong riptides and vicious currents from the East and Hudson Rivers.  A short while after launching their flimsy craft and paddling out with their hands . . . the girls disappear.  The next day, only Val is found, near death under a bridge, where she washes ashore.  June is missing.  Her disappearance affects the whole area, and the novel unfolds like a time-lapse photograph of a flower blooming, as seen through the eyes of Val, who’s devastated by June’s disappearance; Cree, an innocent black kid from the projects who becomes a suspect; Fadi, a Lebanese bodega owner who’s writing a neighborhood newspaper giving the local’s opinions, gossip and rumors; as well as several other minor characters like the drunk music teacher who found and saved Val.  The book contains elegiac prose, thoughtful insights and a dynamic, well-paced plot that gradually spools into a surprise ending.  I can see why Dennis Lehane, an author who maintains the highest personal standards in his writings, put his name on it.  This is a novel to savor and enjoy over a few cold and wet fall afternoons and evenings.  Ivy Pocoda is a great young author with a lot of tales yet to write.  I think she’ll have a long and storied career.

Your personal standards, as well as your knowledge and areas of interest will all increase in direct proportion to the amount of time you spend reading, or at the library.  It’s a fact.  But one of the best things about the library is that it’s absolutely positively, genuinely one hundred percent FREE.  This means at no cost.  Zilch.  Nada. Nuttin’ Honey.  But you have to go, because if you don’t read you’ll be ignorant.  It’s your choice . . .

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The websites are enhanced and improved and easier to navigate.  Check it out for yourself and sign up for our FREE NEWSLETTER.  It’s an all-new feature.  While there, if you like us on Facebook and join our ever growing community of book lovers and adherents of the other Literae Humaniorres, you’ll automatically get our weekly blogs and book reviews at 8 am Eastern time on Monday mornings, just as you get into work.  That way, you can relax with your coffee and still look busy as you re-adjust from the weekend back to the workweek.  NOTE:  This is a change, on the advice of our computer wizardess at McKenna’s Marketing in LACalifornia.  Colorado Noir is off and running.  A limited number of author signed copies are available from Rhyolite Press LLC, P.O. Box 2406, Colorado Springs, CO  80901, for $16.95 plus $4.00 shipping and handling.  The book is 318 pages, and eleven stories that will take you for a walk on the wild, dark and seamy side of one of the most controversial cities in America via the award-winning pen of John Dwaine McKenna, author of The Neversink Chronicles and The Whim-Wham Man.  In Colorado Noir you’ll ride along with a homeless, autistic woman named Elaine, as she tries to pick her living from the garbage in The Aluminum Mistress . . . Hang out with Yazzie and Darrell Lee as they learn to live rough, surviving by petty theft until one of them commits a capital crime in The Ghosts of Christmas Present . . . There’s merry mischief and pathos aplenty in Mosby’s Retreat, where you’ll meet a four-footed usher of death . . . Experience utter terror at 30,000 feet on a B-17 flying abattoir in The Rising, an unforgettable WWII story . . . And treat yourself to the second Jake McKern novella in A Mischief of Rats, as you countdown to a crime spree and shootout that will leave the reader gasping and blood running in the streets of Colorado Springs.  All these, plus six more of the best noir stories in town.  If you love crime fiction and mystery, don’t you DARE miss Colorado Noir!  Available at Amazon, Kindle eBooks, Barnes & Noble and bookstores everywhere, as well as the publisher, Rhyolite Press.

Whew!  I’ve gotta go shower!  But don’t worry, fret or get constipated . . . we’ll be back next week with a new, scary, and just in time for Halloween, Mysterious Book Report.  Happy Trick or Treating!



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